Tech Week: AI threats to white-collar jobs

Review weekly This week’s newsprovides analysis of the most important developments in the technology industry.

Hello, my name is Jamie Condliff. Hello from London. One last look at this week’s tech news before we leave the New York Times.

The story usually goes like this: Automation will take our jobs.

However, the reality is much more nuanced, and debate rages over which tasks should be automated, at what scale, and where. In most cases, one point is agreed upon. That means blue-collar workers who perform repetitive jobs are most at risk.

However, that may not be entirely true. A study published Wednesday by the Brookings Institution uses a method developed by Stanford University researcher Michael Webb to determine the extent to which occupations are exposed to AI by comparing job descriptions and patents for new AI technologies. is being investigated. AI will become a “key element in the future work lives of relatively well-paid managers, supervisors and analysts,” including those in relatively technical roles, the report said. .

Perhaps the most surprising finding is that those with a bachelor’s degree will be five times more exposed to AI than workers with only a high school diploma.

“Many math, science, technology and business roles involve running power plants to maximize energy efficiency or running advertising campaigns to minimize cost per click. ,” explained Mark Muro, a senior research fellow at Brookings University and one of the participants in the study. Authors. “And these are exactly what AI does best.”

Similar studies have lumped robotics and AI together in the past, but when you break them down, it stands to reason that AI for things like planning and recognition will impact white-collar roles.

Still, employees don’t need to panic. Karl Benedict Frey, an Oxford University economist who specializes in technology and employment, said AI is “likely to complement, rather than replace, the people in those jobs.” Mr. Muro points out that “these workers are often people that companies have already invested in” and are likely to have been consulted about their futures.

Muro added: “Personally, I’m a little more worried about white-collar people than I am about less-educated people stuck in dead-end service jobs or the gig economy.”

I recently explained how TikTok is in trouble as the viral video app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, comes under scrutiny from US lawmakers. At the heart of this issue is a large, unproven argument that Chinese law could theoretically force TikTok to send data to the Chinese government.

TikTok CEO Alex Zhu tried to allay Washington’s concerns in an interview with the Times.

No, TikTok does not censor videos that are offensive to China, he said. And no, we don’t share user data with China or even with our Beijing-based parent company.

Zhu said he personally rejects requests for data, even if they come from President Xi Jinping.

And he’s reportedly trying other things as well. The Wall Street Journal reports that TikTok executives are “discussing a U.S. rebrand” and “expansion into Southeast Asia, possibly Singapore, which could allow executives to move the video-sharing app away from China.” Probably.”

However, it is unclear how far such guarantees can be made.

“There seems to be no way to reassure U.S. regulators without resolving the ownership issue,” Adam Segal, director of the Digital Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me.

In an interview with the Times, Zhu said there was no discussion about selling TikTok’s U.S. operations. However, he did not rule out the possibility of ByteDance reorganizing as a separate company with a new board of directors. You may not have much choice.

Iran has shown that it is willing to take its people offline, but perhaps more worryingly, that it can do so without disrupting the country’s infrastructure.

The Iranian government recently imposed a near-total internet shutdown across most of the country, which lasted for almost five days. This comes after protests erupted across the United States after the government announced that it would raise petrol prices. Amnesty International estimates that up to 106 people were killed.

Martha Alimurdani, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, explained to me in an email that the Iranian government is trying to limit the spread of evidence of state violence.

“The death toll and the merciless images of authorities raining bullets on protesters that are being spread are not the images they want to control the narrative,” she said.

Blocking internet traffic, and by extension social media, will ensure that the flow of information is interrupted. But there is little evidence that internet blackouts weaken protests. A 2018 Human Rights Watch report said there is “no substantive data or evidence to prove that internet shutdowns reduce violence.” Alimardani said Iran’s continued power outages are a strong indication that the country is doing little to quell the protests.

However, the closure revealed a success for the Iranian government. It is the National Information Network, the country’s highly censored digital infrastructure. This infrastructure has allowed the country’s vital services, such as finance and health care, to operate near normal, demonstrating that the country is ready to shut down the public internet.

“They have proven that they can and will cut people off by asking the authorities again,” Alimardani said.

“Do no evil,” it once said. However, Google’s internal creed is likely to be something like “don’t question management.”

It has been revealed that Google has ended its biweekly all-hands meetings. The decision came days after Google employees protested the interrogation of two colleagues by the company’s investigative team, according to CNBC. And it all stems from last year’s employee protests over the company’s handling of sexual harassment complaints, lively debates about company policy on internal memo boards, and some employee protests over Google’s work with China and the U.S. military. This is against the backdrop of backlash.

And last week, it was revealed that Google had hired an anti-union consulting firm to advise management in dealing with worker riots.

It’s too early to tell what impact this will have on Google. But what is clear is that the company’s traditional emphasis on transparency and flexibility for employees is coming under strain as more and more employees question the company’s motives and actions.

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